By William E. Cleary Sr.
GLOUCESTER CITY NJ--Dan Miller, the owner of Always Affordable Taxi, Gloucester City, asked me to find out why the City zoning laws prohibit a taxi cab business from parking its cabs on Broadway. Mr. Miller said last year he was going to open a Dollar Store at the South Broadway complex across from the senior citizens apartments. He planned to operate his taxi cab business at the same location and park the cabs in the large store parking lot. But because of the city law against taxi cabs he was refused a certificate of occupancy. He was also thinking of buying a north Broadway property but was told by the Housing Office no taxi cabs allowed.
Always Affordable Taxi provides jobs for 9 city residents, it purchases its gas for the taxi cabs here in Gloucester City, and it also uses the local newspaper (Gloucester City News), Channel 19 and ClearysNoteBook to advertize their services.
Forced off of Broadway Mr. Miller has to make do with an office in his home. People needing a taxi call his house and he dispatches the taxi to the pickup location. The cars are parked during the day and night with a driver at the Gloucester Inn on RT. 130.
Recently another taxi cab business, Gloucester City Cab had planned on opening an office at Broadway and Essex Street on the property that was once occupied by a used car dealer. I tried talking with the business owner but he had no comment. He was afraid that his taxi license to operate in the City would be revoked if he said anything negative.
I am embarrassed and sadden that he was left with this impression of our community.
He did say that the Housing Office told him there was a law prohibiting taxi cabs from parking on Broadway as such he could not open his office in our community.
Can you imagine it is okay to sell used cars on Broadway and to have an auto repair shop but taxi cabs are not allowed to be parked on this commercial roadway.
What happen to Gloucester City Cab? The owner packed up and moved to nearby Bellmawr where they were welcomed with open arms.
Who knows how many local people they would have employed? And no doubt they are buying their gas from a Bellmawr gas station. Gloucester City would have one less store front vacant if they were allowed to locate here. And the city would have gained a tax ratable.
For the life of me I cannot come up with a reason for denying taxi cabs the right to park on Broadway. Several city officials I spoke with, off the record, said the same.
Who passed this law? Was it the present administration; or a previous one? Why is it still in effect? Why didn’t the Housing Office bring this matter to the attention of mayor and council? Certainly someone in that office should see how ludicrous it is for our community to have an ordinance like this on the books. If it is because of appearance then they should look at some of the other businesses on Broadway and get them to clean up their properties before they enforce this one.
I have been running around in circles asking council members and city officials those questions since the beginning of the month. Their response, they would look into it but as of today, Friday (October 30) I was still waiting for someone to call.
I have a tendency to get on one’s nerves because I ask so many questions. Maybe that is the reason. But, I feel the public has a right to know so I keep trying.
City Administrator Jack Lipsett apologized for not calling me back. Lipsett said that according to Joe Stecklair, of the Housing Office, this law has been on the books for some time; and that it was passed by a previous mayor and council. The administrator said he planned on bringing this ordinance to the attention of council in hopes that it will be amended or abolished.
Gloucester City needs to be business friendly. We need more ratables not less.
Hopefully mayor and council will not only look at this law but also instruct Mr. Stecklair to look at other outdated laws that should be abolished. Common sense should prevail in this case, not to allow a taxi cab to park on Broadway is laughable and absurd.
It should be noted that Mr. Stecklair just enforces the zoning laws he doesn't make them. That is the job of Mayor and Council.
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